‘What I want is love, not sacrifice’
This week’s readings all focus on the fact that love and mercy are more important to God than sacrifice.
In the First Reading, God, through the Prophet Hosea, reproaches his people for their lack of faithfulness to him. Holocausts cannot replace love and knowledge of the Lord.
In the Psalm, we again find God rejecting sacrifices for their own sake. They are only acceptable in a spirit of thanksgiving. Only pagan gods require sacrifice to appease their hunger.
When Paul writes to the Romans (Second Reading), he uses the example of their ancestor Abraham. It was his faith in the promises God had made to him which enabled him to persevere in a seemingly impossible situation and it is a model for all believers, for us.
In the Gospel passage we pray this week, Matthew recounts an incident which took place after he answered Jesus’s call. The Pharisees who are present at the meal object to tax collectors eating with them. Here too the Lord makes it plain that what is important is mercy and supporting those who are in need. ‘I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners’.
This week, we might want to focus our prayer on those who need help, and ask the Lord to give us a sincere faith and greater belief in the promises he made. We also keep in our prayer the people affected by war, wherever they may be.